Charlie Daniels Celebrates 80th Birthday with Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton & More
Charlie Daniels celebrated his 80th birthday this year in a big way, jamming out with his closest friends all in the name of giving back.
This year’s 42nd annual Volunteer Jam, a yearly event that raises money for charity, doubled as Daniels’ birthday party.
“When you’re 80 you can celebrate as much as you want to,” Daniels said prior to the event. “We decided this would be my official birthday party, this is by far the biggest jam people wise we have ever done. We started at the War Memorial with 2200 seats and this year we have somewhere between 14 and 15 thousand people here.”
“To be on stage with an icon and to be associated with him, just anything he’s a part of I’m honored to be a part of,” Bryan shared prior to the jam.
Proceeds from this year’s Volunteer Jam went to The Journey Home Project, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Daniels and his manager to aid veterans and their families. The event raked in $245,000 for this worthy cause while over 15,000 fans filled the arena.
More than country music was present at Daniels’ big bash, the show opened with rock group 3 Doors Down who played a slew of their early 2000’s hits before comedian Larry the Cable Guy took the stage to share his monologue of crude, but funny, jokes.
Tritt and Daniels have a history together, so he was more than happy to help Daniels celebrate. Back in Tritt’s early days, Daniels took him under his wing and even let him and his band use the same large dressing room, a story he shared fondly before the show. Tritt’s set included a duet with his daughter as well as crowd pleaser “It’s a Great Day to be Alive.”
Rock lived up to his last name by entertaining the thunderous crowd and earning a huge applause as soon as he began playing the opening chords to “All Summer Long.”
Jamming is in the name of the event, and country stars Stapleton and Bryan did plenty of that in their sets. Stapleton proved his recent CMA Male Vocalist of the Year win by singing the opening part of “Free Bird,” which fans adored.
Bryan opened his set with “Rain is a Good Thing,” a testament that has never been more true to east Tennessee residents with fires blazing through their towns.
“I don’t remember praying for rain or worrying about the lack of rain as much in my life as I have the past three months…Now rain is a good thing,” Bryan said. “It’s funny, I’ll go in cities that might have just had a flood and I’m like ‘We don’t need to do that one tonight,’ it’s okay now, everyone’s doing the rain dance.”
Daniels closed out the show with his signature jam, choosing songs from his enormous catalogue and inviting performers to come on stage to collaborate with him. Stapleton, Tritt, Kid Rock and 3 Doors Down played a part on Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” and “Will the Circle be Unbroken?” And Rock fittingly helped on “Long Haired Country Boy.” Bryan jumped back on stage to help Daniels jam out to famous hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
“Being a kid from Georgia I though, ‘Why is the devil coming down here,’ it scared me a little bit,” Bryan said with a chuckle earlier in the evening.
The truly magical moment of the night is when fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Randy Travis surprised Daniels on stage to present him with the Rare Country Humanitarian of the Year Award. This truly touching moment is what the Volunteer Jam is all about, coming together to celebrate music and what it can do to make the world a better place.
Happy Birthday Daniels, you sure know how to throw one heck of a party.